The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has revealed its members’ demands for the upcoming contract negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. The union is seeking higher wages, better health care, more job security and a greater share of the companies’ profits.
UAW president Shawn Fain outlines the bargaining agenda
In a video message to the union’s 150,000 members who work for the Detroit Three, UAW president Shawn Fain said that the workers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and sacrifices during the pandemic and the chip shortage. He said that the union will fight for “the best wages, benefits and working conditions possible” in the talks that will begin later this month.
Fain also said that the union will address the issues of health and safety, racial justice, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability in the negotiations. He said that the union will demand that the automakers invest in their U.S. plants and workers, and protect them from outsourcing and automation.
“We want to make sure that our members have a voice in how these changes affect their jobs and their communities,” Fain said.
UAW members voice their expectations and concerns
The UAW members who work for the Detroit Three have different expectations and concerns for the contract talks, depending on their seniority, location and product line. Some of the common themes are:
- Higher wages: Many workers want to see an increase in their hourly pay, which ranges from $17 to $32 depending on their seniority and classification. They also want to eliminate the two-tier wage system that pays newer hires less than veteran workers for doing the same job.
- Better health care: The workers want to maintain or improve their health care benefits, which are among the best in the industry. They also want to avoid any increases in their premiums, deductibles or co-pays.
- More profit sharing: The workers want to receive a larger share of the companies’ profits, which have been boosted by strong demand and high prices for trucks and SUVs. They also want to have a say in how the profits are distributed, such as through bonuses, lump sums or 401(k) contributions.
- More job security: The workers want to ensure that their jobs are not threatened by outsourcing, automation or plant closures. They also want to have more opportunities for training, advancement and transfers within the companies.
- More electric vehicles: The workers want to see more investment in electric vehicles (EVs) and their components, such as batteries and motors. They also want to have a role in shaping the transition to EVs, which are expected to create fewer jobs than traditional vehicles.
Detroit Three automakers face challenges and opportunities
The Detroit Three automakers are facing various challenges and opportunities as they enter the contract talks with the UAW. Some of the factors that will influence the negotiations are:
- Pandemic and chip shortage: The automakers have been hit hard by the pandemic and the global chip shortage, which have disrupted their production and sales. They have also incurred higher costs for materials, labor and logistics. They may use these challenges as a reason to limit their spending on wages and benefits for the workers.
- Competition and innovation: The automakers are facing fierce competition from foreign rivals, especially in the EV market. They are also investing heavily in innovation, such as autonomous driving, connectivity and mobility services. They may use these opportunities as a way to attract and retain talent, and to foster collaboration with the workers.
- Public opinion and politics: The automakers are under pressure from the public and the government to be more socially responsible and environmentally friendly. They are also seeking support from the Biden administration for their EV plans, such as tax credits, infrastructure and standards. They may use these factors as a motivation to improve their image and reputation, and to align with the union’s goals.
The contract talks between the UAW and the Detroit Three are expected to be tough but respectful. Both sides have expressed their willingness to work together to reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement. The current contracts expire on September 14th.